MINNEAPOLIS (CBSDFW/WCCO) — If you’re looking to dress up as your favorite Batman villain next weekend, you may need to double-check which theater you’re going to. The Landmark Theatres chain confirmed they are banning costumes, face painting and masks when the new “Joker” movie hits screens.
The movie is booked to start showing at Landmark’s Lagoon Theater in Uptown Minneapolis on Oct. 4.
Controversy has surrounded the movie ahead of its premiere as many — especially families of mass shooting victims — are concerned it could incite violence. One military division has already warned law enforcement about the potential for violence during screenings after extremists posts were apparently sent through social media.
The costume ban at Landmark Theatres comes as worries arose about the movie’s message concerning mental illness and violence. In a statement to CBS DFW, Landmark Theatres would only say, “We don’t comment on anything to do with operating procedures, but we are not allowing costumes, face painting or masks by either our employees or guests.”
Warner Bros’ “Joker” stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role of the infamous Batman and DC Comics villain. The story centers around how his character, Arthur Fleck, became the arch villain he is depicted as being.
Despite the controversy, the movie has been earning plaudits, some from unlikely places. It shocked the film festival circuit when it won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. And many pundits have tipped Phoenix as a heavy contender for the best actor Oscar.
The concerns over the movie’s release have also put a spotlight on the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado theater that killed 12 people during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012.
In a letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, the families of the victims of that shooting said, “This tragic event, perpetrated by a socially isolated individual who felt ‘wronged’ by society has changed the course of our lives. As a result, we have committed ourselves to ensuring no other family ever has to go through the absolute hell we have experienced and the pain we continue to live with.”
Warner Bros. issued a statement in response that read:
“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic. At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”